The Unwrapping of a Mummy at Edgeworth Manor House
In the autumn of 1851, Edmund Hopkinson (1787-1869), the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, issued invitations to an eclectic mix of guests to his mansion, Edgeworth Manor in Stroud. Scientists, doctors, chemists, and a scattering of Hopkinson’s friends, were promised a sumptuous dinner; but first they were to be treated to a very special late afternoon entertainment, for Hopkinson was in possession of an Egyptian mummy which he had chosen that day to unwrap. Hopkinson was neither a collector nor had he acquired the mummy as a souvenir, both of which were the usual methods of owning such an antiquity. Instead, it’s journey to Edgeworth Manor came via a succession of owners, each enjoying the artefact for its curiosity value.
Edmund Hopkinson: Image from the National PortraitGallery
The mummy, and its three elaborate coffins, were first brought to England in 1834 by James Burton (1788-), an Egyptologist and collector of Egyptian antiquities. In 1836 Burton placed his collection for sale through the auctioneers Wilkinson, Hodge and Sotheby’s, minus the mummy and the cartonage, which transferred ownership to Burton’s friend George Greenough. It was likely that the mummy and cartonage may have changed hands in part repayment of the debt, as Burton is known to have lent heavilly from Greenough. Both the mummy and its cartonnage were displayed in the ‘Mummy Room’ at Greenough's house in Regent's Park. It formed part of a collection which was regularly shown to dinner guests in order to stimulate conversation. It remained in Greenough’s home for 25 years until tiring of his curiosity, he offered it as an after dinner raffle prize. The mummy was subsequently won by Hopkinson, the brother-in-law of Burton, in 1848 at a Christmas party. The mummy, nested within a cartonnage coffin, a wooden inner coffin and a rectangular outer coffin, now became resident in Edgewood Manor.
The unwrapping of the mummy, since identified as Padiamun, a sailor of the barque of Amun, was an elaborate affair. Alongside the promised dinner, there were drinks and music supplied by the Cirencester Town Brass Band. The unwrapping was performed by Mr Rumsey, a local surgeon, who it was reported, stripped the body of no less than 280 yards of bandage. The removal of the inner wrappings proved difficult due to the layers of gum, but once released from its linen, the mummy proved to be in excellent condition: ‘the wrinkles of the skin, the form of the limbs, and even the expression of the countenance (were) well retained’. Rumsey concluded that the brain had been removed via the nose which, in itself, showed considerable damage. No papyri or inscriptions were found among the bandages, nor were there any amulets, scarabcoi, rings, or jewels about the body. At the conclusion of the examination the party sat down to dinner ‘where the elegance of the entertainment was only equalled by the kind courtesy and hospitality of the worthy host’.
The mummy, and its bandages, which were roughly replaced on the body after its unwrapping, was given by Hopkinson to the Gloucester Museum in 1852 together with one of the coffins. The largest, outermost coffin and the innermost cartonage coffin had suffered badly from being kept in damp conditions and were thrown away by Hopkinson. In 1953, Gloucester Museum gifted both the mummy and its coffin to Liverpool Museum to replace objects lost in World War Two when the Egyptian Gallery was bombed (accession number 53.72).
The Mummy of Padiamun
Padiamun has undergone several investigations since coming to Liverpool. In 1967, the mummy was x-rayed and an instrument used by Rumsey in the 1851 unwrapping was found to be still lying inside the skull. The coffin has also been dated to the 22nd dynasty and its style has been identified as being contemporary to the area of Thebes. More recent scanning has also taken place and has produced some remarkably clear images of the mummy without having to inflict any further intrusive damage.
Scan of Padiamun's nasal cavity
Coffin of Padiamun
The coffin is beautifully decorated - on the front is an image of Padiamun and Osiris in the hall of judgement. Padiamun is clutching his heart in readiness for it being weighed and Thoth, Anubis and Maat are shown accompanying him. On the shoulders of the coffin can be seen the rare images of hippocampus (seahorses). On the inside there is a died pillar holding the crook and flail often seen as a symbol of kingship. It also has horns which can be associated with the god Khnumn. Ba birds fly above the horns, arms reaching for the sun disc. At the top of the coffin, a single figure holds up a solar barque.
Ancient Egypt in Liverpool via https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.12194198903.18837.12014553903&type=1
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Gloucester Journal. 25 October 1851.
National Portrait Gallery http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/use-this-image.php?mkey=mw194032
Stroud News, The Mummy Returns! Unwrap an Egyptian Easter surprise, 9th April 2009 http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/4281676.print/
Taylor, J.H. (2003), 'Theban coffins from the 22nd to the 26th Dynasty: dating and synthesis of development ' in Nigel Strudwick and John H Taylor (eds.) The Theban Necropolis: Past, Present and Future. London: British Museum Press pp.109-10, pl. 59